PHILADELPHIA — On September 19, 2021, Philadelphia Mission Baptist Church (PMBC) celebrated its 10th anniversary on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania where the church has been worshipping the Lord for the past nine years after using a seminary chapel as its worship place for the first year.
A decade earlier, in 2011, the families of Pastor William Chung and Pastor James Won moved to Philadelphia, obeying God’s call to plant a new Southern Baptist church, PMBC. They were welcomed and helped by Rev. Peter Yanes, then a BRN church planting catalyst (currently executive director of Asian American relations & mobilization, SBC Executive Committee) and by Rev. Stanley Williams, currently director of BRN Next Gen Collegiate Ministry.
PMBC held its inaugural worship service on the third Sunday of September 2011. Two charter buses drove into the city for the special occasion, filled with church members from the sending body, Antioch Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as our sister church, Worthy Life Baptist Church, in Washington, D.C. Over 200 witnesses brought encouragement and blessing for PMBC, as its founding members committed to serving the Lord through ministering to the lost on Philadelphia’s college campuses and beyond. But the history and groundwork of PMBC began well before 2011.
In 1981, Pastor Paul Kim and his wife Dr. Rebekah Kim moved from Los Angeles to Berkeley, California, and established Berkland Baptist Church (BBC) near the University of California, Berkeley. Their calling was to preach the gospel to college students, to disciple them in the Word of God, and to raise up spiritual leaders for the 21st century. BBC began with only five founding members but one by one God began to add to their number. Ten years later, the congregation numbered over 500 active members, many of them college students who caught the vision to become leaders in their generation.
In 1991, the Kims heard a Macedonian call to start a new church plant in Boston. Like the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, who as the top leaders of the church in Antioch, obeyed the Spirit’s leading to be sent out as missionaries, Pastor Paul and Dr. Rebekah, as founders of BBC, felt God was calling them to do the difficult work of starting a new work. They entrusted the thriving ministry in Berkeley to their disciples and moved their family to found BBC-Boston (now Antioch Baptist Church).
Chung was one of the many college students in Berkeley whose life was completely transformed by the ministry of BBC. In his freshman year in 1987, during his very first visit to the church, he miraculously responded to the gospel message, repented, and gave his life to Christ.
Six years later in 1993, Won arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and through the ministry of BBC-Boston, he met his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Both pastors were discipled and raised as leaders in the rich spiritual soil of BBC, and they began to produce fruit in accordance, becoming disciplers and shepherds of God’s flock. They were ordained as ministers of the gospel and sent out in obedience to another Macedonian call, this time from Philadelphia through our deacons, Daniel and Pauline Han, who had moved to the city several years earlier. And for the past 10 years, PMBC church leaders have been faithfully preaching the same gospel of God’s power to transform lives on the campus of University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).
At PMBC’s 10th anniversary worship service, Williams issued a challenge for the next 10 years–PMBC should be a church that follows the Good Shepherd: listening to His voice, sharing His values, catching His vision, and daily imitating His example of taking up the cross to the glory of God and for the salvation of souls. As a co-founder of BBC, Dr. Rebekah Kim exhorted our church to be a pure bride of Christ, earnestly preparing and eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus, her bridegroom. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Other guests at the celebration included Dr. Charles Howard, university chaplain, vice president for social equity and community, UPenn; Rev. David Um, senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church, Cambridge; Southern Baptist chaplain, MIT, trustee of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Rev. James Lee, senior pastor of Worthy Life Baptist Church, Baltimore-Washington, D.C.; Rev. Joseph Han, international student ministry director of Antioch Baptist Church; and Stan Smith, former associate director of the Baptist Resource Network.
Jessica Chi is a staff member of PMBC serving in the graduate student ministry and also a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.